This case summary is part of a collection of summaries describing the cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). See the Online Resource Hub pages on the ICTY and International Criminal Law, and the table of ICTY case summaries for additional information.
Trial Judgment: 6 September 2011; Appeal Judgment: 28 February 2013
Momčilo Perišić, chief of the General Staff of the VJ, stood trial for allegedly having planned, prepared, executed or otherwise aided and abetted the planning, preparation, or execution of crimes against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica and Sarajevo, and against Croats in Zagreb, including: a protracted military campaign of snipping and shelling civilians and civilian objects in Sarajevo, and failure to initiate an inquiry into what role his subordinates played in the commission of these crimes; the execution of shelling of civilian areas and civilians in Zagreb; and the “six objectives” to eliminate the Muslim enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa enclaves, including the persecution, forcible transfer, and summary execution of Bosniak residents by VRS and VJ soldiers; this case marks the first and only acquittal for crimes committed in Srebrenica. The prosecution accused him of individual and superior criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity for murder, persecutions, extermination, inhumane acts including inflicting serious injuries on civilians and forcible transfer; and violations of the laws or customs of war for murder and attacks on civilians.
In 2011, the Trial Chamber convicted Perišić as an aider and abettor with individual criminal responsibility for persecutions and with individual and superior criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity for murder, inhumane acts, and persecutions and for violations of the laws and customs of war for attacks on civilians and murder, on the basis of Perišić’s oversight of the VJ and personal assistance to the VRS in its illegal activities.
In 2013, the Appeals Chamber heard Perišić’s appeal for acquittal on all charges, or in the alternative a reduction in his sentence; the Appeals Chamber determined that the Trial Chamber erred as a matter of law when it determined that Perišić’s act of lending VJ soldiers to the VRS and their subsequent illegal acts was the basis for aiding and abetting in crimes, as the act was too far removed from the specific crimes; based on this error, Perišić’s convictions based on aiding and abetting were reversed by the Appeals Chamber. The Appeals Chamber also determined that the Trial Chamber erred when it determined that Perišić was liable for failing to punish the perpetrators of the Zagreb attacks as there was no proof of effective control over subordinates; the Appeals Chamber overturned Perišić’s remaining convictions based on superior liability and acquitted Perišić of all charges. The Trial Chamber sentenced Perišić to 27 years’ imprisonment; Perišić’s was acquitted by the Appeals Chamber.